CATO OP-EDS

Doug Bandow Washington has been supremely embarrassed-by a nominal ally, as usual. After the Trump administration insisted that its involvement in Yemen helped reduce civilian casualties there, Saudi Arabia promptly launched an air attack that slaughtered a bus full of school children. It was a demonstration of how America’s allies often cause more trouble than her enemies do. No country has more allies that the United States. The most important ones are in Europe and Asia, though Washington also designates favored nations as “Major Non-NATO Allies” (MNNAs), which typically receive some mix of security guarantees and financial support. Then there are a few informal allies, which are security partners in all but name. This list seems ever to increase. U.S. policymakers constantly seek out more, rather like how many strive to increase their Facebook friends. And indeed, many of America’s professed friends have no more value than those on Facebook. Washington should stop automatically treating its allies’ enemies as its own enemies. There are 28 other NATO members, including such behemoths as Albania, Montenegro, and Slovenia. Recently invited to join was Macedonia. Presidents have designated 16 nations as MNNAs, which includes Australia, Japan, and South Korea, along with Egypt, Bahrain, Israel, Tunisia, Pakistan, and Argentina. Saudi Arabia and Taiwan are de facto allies, with presumed but unclear security guarantees. That’s a lot of charges for America to keep [...]
Fri, Aug 17, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Alex Nowrasteh The Trump administration will soon place new limits on legal immigration with a regulatory change that will penalize newcomers just because they could use public benefits in the U.S. The point, according to a spokesman for the president, is “to ensure that the government takes the responsibility of being good stewards of taxpayer funds.” In the long run, however, the proposed rule will amount to the opposite of good stewardship: It will cost the government, and taxpayers, much more than it will save. The Department of Homeland Security and the State Department already consider whether immigrants are likely to become “a public charge” before issuing visas to them, or granting them permanent resident status (green cards). The administration’s modified rule would codify that process, setting new, stricter standards. Leaked drafts of the regulation show that immigrants could be at risk if the government thinks they might consume, over a year, as little as $1 a day (for primary immigrants), or 50 cents a day (for each person in a family of four), in public benefits. Even the welfare consumption of an immigrant’s citizen children — their use of food stamps, say, or Medicaid — would count in the calculation. Under the new rule, many lawful migrants already in the U.S. would no longer qualify for green cards. It could put their livelihoods at [...]
Fri, Aug 17, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Doug Bandow Sometimes Americans travel abroad. Sometimes bad things happen to them. There’s Otto Warmbier. Andrew Brunson. And many others. The Trump administration, like its predecessors, has attempted to free Americans held by foreign governments and groups. President Barack Obama essentially arranged a swap to bring home U.S. citizens imprisoned in Iran. President Ronald Reagan famously sent arms to Tehran in an attempt to free Americans kidnapped in Lebanon. Although President Donald Trump has not articulated his view of the issue, the Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn argued: “If America First means anything, surely it means a recognition that insisting on consequences for anyone who harms an innocent American abroad isn’t an act of charity.” That’s an appealing policy for someone who frequently travels overseas, and not always to garden spots—Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Burma, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Jordan, North Korea, Sudan, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Egypt, among others. I’d like the 101st Airborne to come rescue me if necessary. But that actually would be bad policy for the United States. Ultimately, Americans travel the world at their own risk So far the Trump administration’s only success is with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The North apparently wanted to return Warmbier when it became evident that his health was failing. Three other imprisoned Americans were released as part of negotiations leading up to the June summit. In [...]
Wed, Aug 15, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Michael D. Tanner Last week the New York Times reported that Puerto Rican authorities had discovered at least ten trailers full of food, medicine, and baby supplies that were left to rot as a result of government ineptitude in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. At this point, news stories about such incompetence are so commonplace that the Times’s scoop barely elicited a yawn. Yet it does — or should — raise a question. Given the ongoing evidence of government’s inability to carry out even its most basic tasks, why do so many Americans want to expand its control over our lives? The democratic socialists who are all the rage in American politics at the moment have long since run out of foreign examples of socialist nirvana to point to. Venezuela is busy starving its children, while the Danish prime minister is scolding American liberals that “Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.” Voters are increasingly placing their trust in government to solve their problems, despite its endless record of incompetence. Nor does the record of government in this country provide much more on which to hang faith in big government. Yet that doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. Indeed, every demonstrated government failure seems to lead inevitably to calls for … more government. Has Obamacare driven up [...]
Wed, Aug 15, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Simon Lester Understandably, the Brexit talks are hung up on big questions such as the UK’s trade relationship with the EU Single Market and what to do about the Irish border. Tariffs, the traditional focus of trade policy, have played only a small role in the debate. UK-EU tariffs are already at zero, so the typical trade negotiating exercise of phasing out tariffs on particular products has not been followed. The apparent assumption that any Brexit deal will maintain zero tariffs is reassuring. But this assumption may only apply to ordinary tariffs. There is also a special category of “trade remedy” tariffs that apply to so-called “unfair trade”, and the approach of a Brexit deal to these tariffs has been less clear. Brits received a crash course in the use and abuse of “trade remedies” last year, when there was the prospect of the United States imposing tariffs on Bombardier aeroplanes in amounts close to 300% — although, ultimately, the US agency responsible decided not to impose them. Trade remedies include tariffs imposed in response to import prices that are deemed too low (anti-dumping duties) and to foreign government subsidies (countervailing duties). With regard to dumping, when people hear this word, they may assume that it means something like the predatory pricing that competition policy usually deals with. In reality, though, dumping calculations [...]
Tue, Aug 14, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
James A. Dorn This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s opening to the outside world in 1978. Following the disastrous Cultural Revolution and Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, economic development, not class struggle, became the primary aim of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Deng Xiaoping allowed experimentation with market-based alternatives to central planning, and for a while it appeared that economic liberalization would help create a free market in ideas with greater debate on political as well as economic issues. That hope is rapidly disappearing with the rising power of China’s president for life, Xi Jinping. A new “little red” book, Thirty Chapters about Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, compiled by the Publicity Department of the CCP’s Central Committee, presents the politically correct view on Chinese-style socialism. The book is being widely distributed within China, but there is little room for serious debate. As the China Daily notes, the book “explains that Xi Jinping Thought is the guiding thought that the Party and the country must follow in the long run.” Xi Jinping Thought is a 14-point manifesto to ensure CCP “leadership over all forms of work.” It promises “continuation of ‘comprehensive deepening of reforms’ ”; propagates the long-held myth that under “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” the “people” are “the masters of the country”; asserts that [...]
Tue, Aug 14, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
A. Trevor Thrall and Jordan Cohen A recent video showing the Cameroonian military executing two women and two children by gunshot to the head shocked many Americans, most of whom are certainly unaware that since 2002 the United States has trained nearly 6,400 soldiers, sold Cameroon $6 million worth of American weapons, and provided its military with $234 million in security aid. Making matters worse is the fact that this sort of behavior is nothing new in Cameroon. In 2017, Amnesty International revealed that the Cameroonian military tortured prisoners in over 20 sites, and recorded 101 cases of incommunicado detention and torture between 2013 and 2017. Chillingly, the report also notes that many of these actions took place at the same military base used by U.S. personnel for drone surveillance and training missions. During the U.S. fortification of this site — known as Salak — Amnesty International found that suspects were subjected to water torture, beaten with electric cables and suspended with ropes, among other horrors. American counterterrorism policy should never allow the ends to justify such means. Though unintentional, American counterterrorism policy in Cameroon has done just that. Even after learning of the crimes documented in the Amnesty report, the United States continued to provide training and funding for the Cameroonian military, enabling the ongoing torture and the execution of innocent people. Washington needs [...]
Tue, Aug 14, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Ryan Bourne The push for federal subsidies for child care is gaining momentum. Ivanka Trump has urged Congress to pass a tax deduction for child-care expenses. During the 2016 presidential campaign, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders proposed new federal preschool and child-care programs. And recently, one commentator even advocated opening federally subsidized care centers nationwide. The concern is understandable. According to 2016 data compiled by Child Care Aware, the average annual cost of full-time center-based infant care varies dramatically nationwide, from $5,178 in Mississippi to $23,089 in the District of Columbia. That amounts to 27.2 percent of median single-parent family income in Mississippi and fully 89.1 percent in D.C. Such high burdens not only have a crippling financial impact on poorer families but can make it uneconomic to work and pay for child care at the same time. Yet none of the proposed solutions to costly care would make it cheaper. They would simply transfer the high costs to taxpayers. A better starting point would surely be to ask: Why is child care so expensive? One important answer, it turns out, is state-level regulation. Staff-child ratio rules and worker-qualification requirements, in particular, increase prices and reduce availability, particularly in poor areas. These are things state legislators can do something about. Suppose a staff-child ratio is made more stringent, meaning that fewer children can [...]
Tue, Aug 14, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Randal O'Toole Last week, a transportation consultant named Bruce Schaller published a report claiming that ride-hailing was increasing traffic congestion. Since then, we’ve been inundated with wild claims Uber and Lyft were increasing traffic by 180 percent, and these claims are used to support arguments that cities should tax companies like Uber and Lyft and use the revenues to compensate transit agencies for the riders lost to ridesharing. Inaccurate Congestion Claims Yet, the congestion claims are completely inaccurate. Schaller concluded that, because well under half of ride-hailing trips would otherwise have used private automobiles, ride-hailing put “2.8 new vehicle miles on the road for each mile of personal driving removed.” He went on to say that this is “an overall 180 percent increase in driving on city streets,” but that would be true only if ride-hailing removed 100 percent of private driving from the streets. The report also said that ride-hailing added “5.7 billion miles of driving annually in the Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC metro areas.” That sounds like a lot, but Federal Highway Administration data show that it is only about 1 percent of driving in those metro areas. Since, by Schaller’s estimation, about a third of ride-sharing travel displaced private auto travel, ride-hailing added a net of just two-thirds of a percent of driving [...]
Tue, Aug 14, 2018
Source: OP-EDS
Christopher A. Preble Two articles in different weekend magazines have me thinking about America’s many wars. David Montgomery in last weekend’s Washington Post pondered the proliferation of war memorials in our nation’s capital. The second, an excerpt from C.J. Chivers’s new book in the latest New York Timesmagazine, details the experiences of an Army unit in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. Some of those killed in that desolate distant place will be remembered, indirectly at least, in a new Global War on Terrorism Memorial. Montgomery reports that President Donald Trump “signed legislation waiving the statutory 10-year post-war waiting period so planning could begin.” He continues: That memorial would accomplish a feat rarely if ever matched in the annals of memorial building: commemorating a war before it is over. It also epitomizes the new state of affairs, where endless war means endless war-memorial building. In a similar context, Chivers notes that the Afghan war will enter its 18th year in October. As he explains, this means that soldiers born after the U.S. military toppled the Taliban in 2001, who were not even crying babes when the planes hit the towers, will likely be serving there soon. And this is only one of several initiated after 9/11. Chivers recites the grim statistics that, for many Americans, have become akin to the music played in retail stores: We’re vaguely [...]
Mon, Aug 13, 2018
Source: OP-EDS

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.